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The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International will convene an international conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence, to be held in Rome, Italy, 11-13 April, 2016. Please join us in prayer for the success of the convening!
In recognition of the Year of Mercy declared by the Holy Father, this carefully planned Catholic conference on nonviolence and just peace will take place in Rome — the invited participants represent a broad spectrum of Church experiences in peace-building and creative nonviolence in the face of violence and war. Read the concept note for the conference here. Continue reading →
We are going to need more than demonstrations, we are going to have to do more than putting the Belgian flag as a profile picture on Facebook, we are going to need more that GIFs, tweets and petitions. What we need is a total, radical and deep rethinking of the way we see society, of how we see each other within it, of who makes decisions on our behalf. In short, a spiritual and philosophical revolution is what it required.
By Frank Barat
Frank Barat reflects on Tuesday’s attacks on his city, and argues that only more understanding can defeat terrorism and its root causes.
The second day of Spring in my hometown, Brussels, started like any other day. I took the kids to school and nursery this morning, then went to work. Or, rather, came back home, where most of my work is done these days. For two years, I’d been working at offices near the European Parliament, but I prefer working from home now, especially in days like today: The sky is blue and the sun is shining. Sitting in front of my computer, I looked outside at the trees, listening to the singing birds. Continue reading The Brussels Attacks→
Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country. Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence — and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. Over the same period, hundreds of thousands of others in communities around the country committed suicide with a gun and nearly half a million people suffered other gun injuries. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been shot to death protecting their communities. And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident. The vast majority of Americans, including the vast majority of gun owners, believe it is time to take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies.
President Obama has said that he is committed to using every tool at his disposal to reduce gun violence. While some of the gaps in gun laws can only be fixed through legislation, in early January the President announced a series of executive actions designed to:
• Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.
• Make communities safer from gun violence.
• Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.
• Shape the future of gun safety technology.
The presidential announcement was welcomed by many in the faith community including LCWR which adopted a resolution at its 2013 assembly calling for an end to gun violence. lcwr.org/social-justice/ending-gun-violence
Additional information about the executive action is available from the White House at: tinyurl.com/gqzya7n
Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday he will not block a Syrian refugee family from receiving state aid such as food stamps and health care, even as he continues to oppose its relocation to Indiana.
Pence’s comments at an airport news conference came one day after the Archdiocese of Indianapolis settled a Syrian refugee family in the city despite the governor’s recent announcement that, due to security concerns, he was halting state support for such relocation efforts.
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration said he was disturbed by calls from federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.
Al Jazeera Upper house passes law allowing troops to fight on foreign soil for first time since World War II, despite protests.
Japan’s parliament has passed a law allowing its military to fight on foreign soil for the the first time since World War II.
Japan marks WWII anniversary amid criticism
The upper house of the Japanese parliament passed the law on Saturday despite fierce attempts by opposition politicians to block the move.
The approval makes the legislation into law, loosening post-World War II constraints on the use of force by the military to its own self-defense only.
The legislation, passed by the more powerful lower house in July, sparked sizable protests and debate about whether the nation should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.
The motion, backed by Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition, passed following days of heated debate that at times descended into scuffles and shouting matches between parliament members.
Opposition politicians on Thursday pushed and shoved in a failed bid to stop a committee approving the bills.
Abe has faced fierce criticism for his handling of the bills and there are growing signs the campaign has taken a political toll.
“One of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades are the terrible consequences that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have on civilian populations as well as on cultural heritage. Millions of people are in distressing state of urgent need. They are forced to leave their native lands. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey today carry the weight of millions of refugees, which they have generously received. Faced with such a situation and conflicts that are expanding and disturbing in an alarming way the internal and regional equilibrium, the international community seems unable to find adequate solutions while the arms dealers continue to achieve their interests”.
Prayer for peace on 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Prayer for peace on 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Prayer for peace on 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Japanese girl displays folded paper cranes during 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Christians march to Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace in Hiroshima during commemoration of atomic bomb drop Girl displays folded paper cranes for 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing.
HIROSHIMA, Japan (CNS) — For a long minute on a sunny morning, silence fell over the memorial park that commemorates the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city.
A gong sounded repeatedly as local residents and visitors from around the world stopped to remember a similarly sunny morning 70 years ago when a fireball ripped apart the skies.
Among the visitors to Hiroshima was Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was the bishop’s first visit to Japan, and he said he was moved by what he saw and heard from Japanese Catholics, who have been adamant in demanding an end to nuclear weapons.
“It’s important for an American delegation to be here with the Japanese in this moment, because we celebrate the efforts they have made for peace, and we stand in solidarity with them. They are part of a church that around the world has spoken against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, a message that here is directed particularly at the United States,” Bishop Cantu told Catholic News Service.
“So although our countries were enemies 70 years ago, we have become allies in this effort. We do, however, recognize that there’s movement in Japan toward building up their military capabilities again. We caution against that, and we stand with the bishops of Japan in opposing that,” he said.
Bishop Cantu, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said that as a U.S. citizen, he arrived in Hiroshima with a sense of “sorrow and repentance.”
He also was to travel to Nagasaki, the second Japanese city on which the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb, for similar ceremonies Aug. 9.
“The Japanese bishops have much to teach us. I was heartened to read their statement from earlier this year in which, on behalf of all Japanese, they repented for the harm they did to people of the region (in the wars). That attitude allows us to start moving forward,” he said.
Following a Mass that marked the bombing’s anniversary at the Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace, Bishop Cantu spoke to the congregation about the work that U.S. bishops are doing to ensure that the world will experience no more Hiroshimas.
The bishop said that since the end of the Cold War in 1991, Americans think little about nuclear weapons and the threat they pose. The recent agreement negotiated by the several countries with Iran “puts nuclear weapons in the forefront of political debate after years of being an afterthought in the minds of most Americans,” he said.
For many of his generation, Bishop Cantu said, “the return to a serious discussion of nuclear disarmament may seem like an outdated exercise. Sadly, it is not.”
He cited the nuclear threats of Russia over Ukraine and Russia’s announcement in June that it is boosting its nuclear arsenal by putting 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles into service. He said those developments have lent fuel to hawks in the U.S. Congress, who in turn want to modernize the U.S. arsenal, replacing old weapons systems they claim are obsolete. Such an attitude likely reflects changing public opinion in the U.S., he said, noting that opinion polls show declining support for reducing nuclear arsenals.
That means the U.S. bishops, who have for decades argued for reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, have major work ahead, he said.
“The task of the U.S. bishops is to convince the majority of Americans … that they need to support the vision of a world without nuclear weapons. They need to believe that such a goal is possible,” he said.
But the bishops cannot go it alone and have often partnered with others with similar interests in peace, he explained.
“Happily, our partners in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament are not confined to just the religious community in the United States. There are scientists, politicians, business and military leaders, academics, and civil society activists who have joined this effort,” he said.
Yet the bishop warned that the struggle against nuclear weapons in the U.S. has encountered difficulties of late in Washington’s hot political climate. Given what he called the “increased political polarization within our Congress,” all signs indicate the road to authentic disarmament will be long and difficult, but Bishop Cantu pledged that the U.S. bishops will continue “to fight the good fight to eliminate nuclear weapons.”